Q: What do I get a girl for Christmas who I have been casually seeing for one month? —Late to the Party
A: Some of us have been with the same woman for more than a month, and in some cases even several months, and have faced the same Christmas gift-giving dilemma. From experience we can say one thing is for certain: physical objects are an absolute no-no. Even seemingly sure-fire presents like sports cars and private islands can blow up in your face — "This latitude is too low!" — and the return policies are a nightmare.
This is why we strongly recommend this simple, convenient, relatively affordable, and extremely popular solution: a spa gift certificate.
There isn't a woman on earth who doesn't like to be pampered with a facial, massage, pedicure, or achiote hydrating wrap, and in some cases the treatments are mutually beneficial. Further, depending on how much you want to spend, this gift opens up several hours of free time to watch a football game, drink beer with your mates, or do both of those things simultaneously.
Here at MB HQ, it's that time of the year where our conversations turn toward the ever-worsening trend we describe as the Halloweenification of Christmas. You know what mean: Millions and millions of adults, dressing up in clownishly garish Christmas costumes to honor the birth of our lord Carrot Top.
Has anything ever provided less joy to the world than a grown man or woman, half-sloshed on 100-proof eggnog, trying to camouflage his bone-deep holiday despair by wearing a naughty snowman on his chest?
On December 12th, the 'weenification' of Christmas will reach its awful apex on National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. We understand the profound global forces underlying this phenomenon. Social media has connected us all more tightly, made us all more visible to each other, and yet, paradoxically, all more invisible to each other as well, as everyone battles for attention.
The urge to stand out intensifies in this new milieu — and what better way to signal one's singularly charismatic sense of style than in a context where looking ridiculous is the explicit goal? Talk about a tradition tailor-made for an era where self-esteem and convenience rule.
To all this, we issue a hardy and heartfelt "Bah humbug!"
And advise you to cede National Ugly Sweater Day to Utah. On December 12th, put on a garment that will truly make your heart swell with gratitude for this incredible world we live in, where impeccably crafted garments are always just a click away. We recommend this Rice-Knit Cashmere Cardigan in Burnt Red Melange.
Yes, that name sort of makes it sound like this sweater belongs on a menu rather than your back, but don't be deterred. The cashmere comes from the Bayangovi region of Mongolia, where zero-degree days qualify as "hot" and the local livestock develop suitably thick and fluffy coats to compensate. Nomadic herders hand-comb the wool from these magnificent creatures, and each of these sweaters comes with a label that specifies the exact herder who did the combing! Add some genuine horn buttons, and what you've got is a Christmas sweater that looks as stylish as it does cozy.
JFK was known for his sporty, casual look. And yet even he knew that when it comes to style, there is a time and place for everything. And that on Christmas morning, when you're under the tree with your loved ones, in the cozy and secure heart of your home, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, the bonds of family, and the virtues of faith, love, compassion, and gratitude, it's time for a tie.
Q: Great to have you back! I am attending my office Christmas party and I am to bring a $10 gift. Any ideas? —Richard
A: If you want something that will appeal to the widest range of potential recipients, our focus group testing has found that virtually all of white-collar America responds positively to a smoking, drinking man-deer who is not afraid to make a nonchalant spectacle of himself at Yuletime.
If you think the booze will be flowing freely at your party, and your 4th quarter performance has been strong enough to withstand a visit to HR, we like this plastic wine stopper from Gama-Go.
If you're lucky enough to work with literate, discerning colleagues, you can't go wrong with Paul Fussell's Class.
We can't make promises for the last two, but if you buy a Non-Denominational Winter Tree Accessory today, it will arrive in time for Friday office parties. (I.E., we ship it USPS two-day delivery at no extra charge.)
A year ago we warned you of the clear and present danger of the holidays and presented the Basic MB Hot Toddy as an alternative to any drink that contains enough eggs or dairy products that it would make a better omelet than cocktail. This year we've got five more superb holiday cocktail options, one being the holiday version of the Magnificent Bastard, which is nearly as good as the original.
2 oz Bulleit bourbon
1 oz Domaine de Canton
1/8 oz Laphroaig 10-year scotch
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass.
Like the original MB cocktail, this drink was also invented by mixologist Bryan Swanson, who explained why it's so damn tasty this time of year: "The ginger in the DdC and clove/spice flavors in the Fee Brothers give the drink a nice warming touch. Have it with some gingerbread and it's a holiday."
The classic Negroni is simply equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. You can do better.
5 parts Plymouth gin
2 parts Campari
1 part Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Quick shake or stir and pour into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.